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Roland JC-120 worth it?
Old 7th February 2013
  #61
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Nick Morris's Avatar
 

Well, it's hard to describe, but you can tell both amps are going for the same sound. The newer one sounds flat and sterile, while the older one had much beefier tone. I would say the new one was about 50% of what the old one was. Kinda like comparing an original fender twin to one of their solid state practice amps, they both can play a clean tone, just one rules over the other.
Old 8th February 2013
  #62
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Thanks Nick for your description of the differences between the 2 generations of JC 120s you compared.

Perhaps the 2011 version sounds different from the around 2000 amp you heard. JDfoca thought his 2011 amp sounded as good as his friends 80s amp. Does anyone know if there were any differences in the amps built in early 2000 and those built later that could possibly account for an improved quality of sound?
Old 8th February 2013
  #63
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Nick Morris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave View Post
Thanks Nick for your description of the differences between the 2 generations of JC 120s you compared.

Perhaps the 2011 version sounds different from the around 2000 amp you heard. JDfoca thought his 2011 amp sounded as good as his friends 80s amp. Does anyone know if there were any differences in the amps built in early 2000 and those built later that could possibly account for an improved quality of sound?
And like I said, they both strive for the same sound, so I can see if someone thought, yes that is how a jc120 sounds. But I compared them both at the same time with the same guitar in the same room. The differences were pretty big. I would like to hear from someone who has an older one with the metal on/off toggle switch rather than the black push button on/off.
Old 8th February 2013
  #64
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I had a late 70s/early 80s JC-120. It just sucked so bad. So sterile and ice-picky. I wouldn't accept this amp if it was offered again to me for free.

If you want a proper 80s chorus type tone, get yourself two Marshall JMP combos from that era, and use a stereo MXR chorus pedal. That's the Jamie-West Oram (Fixx) sound.

It's unclear how much Andy Summers really used the JC-120. Certainly, his classic tone is the Electric Mistress pedal, and not the JC chorus. Probably a lot of his stuff is Fender Twin, Marshall, etc. I know he used a Roland Bolt tube amp on occasion.
Old 8th February 2013
  #65
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Nick Morris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsowa View Post
I had a late 70s/early 80s JC-120. It just sucked so bad. So sterile and ice-picky. I wouldn't accept this amp if it was offered again to me for free.

If you want a proper 80s chorus type tone, get yourself two Marshall JMP combos from that era, and use a stereo MXR chorus pedal. That's the Jamie-West Oram (Fixx) sound.

It's unclear how much Andy Summers really used the JC-120. Certainly, his classic tone is the Electric Mistress pedal, and not the JC chorus. Probably a lot of his stuff is Fender Twin, Marshall, etc. I know he used a Roland Bolt tube amp on occasion.
Do you recall what kind of on/off switch it had? was it a toggle?
Old 8th February 2013
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Morris View Post
Do you recall what kind of on/off switch it had? was it a toggle?
Yea, 3-position toggle.
Old 8th February 2013
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsowa View Post
Yea, 3-position toggle.
Hmmm. You didn't happen to listen to a current jc120 just for some comparison yet did you. Maybe you just don't like the jc120 type tone.
Old 8th February 2013
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Morris View Post
Hmmm. You didn't happen to listen to a current jc120 just for some comparison yet did you. Maybe you just don't like the jc120 type tone.
Never heard a new one. The latter suggestion is quite possible. Playing through it in a room was fine, and the stereo chorus gives an amazing impression when it's right in front of you. But for recording I found the results next to useless.

I will say that it's one of the very few devices which will give you a true vibrato effect for your guitar. So that's something.
Old 8th February 2013
  #69
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mikeyrad's Avatar
 

I have a jc-77 and I like it. I put a reverb tank from the 60's in there and built a tube pre for the front end from a rack mount guitar pre from the 80'a (I think it was an ACT). This thing sounds really good now!
Old 8th February 2013
  #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave View Post
Wow! The Cult are an amazing group. "She Sells Sanctuary" is one of my favorite songs of all time. I read that the following guitarists used a JC 120: Andy Summers from the Police, Johnny Marr from the Smiths (in conjunction with a Fender Pro amp), James Hetfield of Metallica, and Joe Perry from Aerosmith.
and don't forget Bob Mould sculpted his incredible wall of sound with 2 JC-120 amps (and a MXR Distortion+ obviously) back in the Husker Du days (today he seems to use a JC 120 heads with 4x12 cabinets) - given this, and the fact that Adrian Belew played his legendary early 80's stuff with Talking Heads and King Crimson on JC-120's I would say JC-120's are capable of fantastic and very unique distortion sounds (with the help of pedals).
here is a great Talking Heads show with fantastic guitar sounds (Belew!!, solo at 3:50) and a pretty much exclusively JC-120 backline:
Talking Heads - Live in Rome 1980 - 07 Crosseyed & Painless - YouTube
Old 8th February 2013
  #71
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Silent Sound's Avatar
I've got a friend in a band here in town who plays through a JC120. He gets great clean and distortion sounds. I'm actually pretty amazed by it, because I just don't think of SS amps as being all that good, usually. Then again, I've got another friend who has a Fender M-80 chorus combo that has this awesome warm clean sound. It's doesn't sound like a tube amp at all, but does also doesn't sound anywhere near sterile. The distortion on that amp is atrocious! But somehow, I like it! The chorus, however is to die for. So who knows with this type of stuff. You just have to play the amp and decide for yourself. One thing's for sure, if you can make one of these amps sound good, you will impress a lot of guitarists and have a pretty unique sound.

Perhaps the difference between the old Jazz Chorus's and the new ones are the speakers. A thirty year old speaker is pretty beat in and sound a lot warmer than a brand new one. Just speculating here.
Old 8th February 2013
  #72
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Joe_K's Avatar
Second amp I ever owned was a JC-120 in the mid 80's (bought for $450 new). That was a low price because I had originally paid for a less expensive Marshall solid-state 2x12 combo on a lay away plan (I was 16), but when I got to the store to make my final payment and pick it up, they had sold it to someone else. To make up for it, they gave me the JC-120 at the same cost. NOT the amp I wanted, but I agreed to at least try it out and did end up keeping it.

I'm more seasoned now and might have a different opinion if I had it to try again, but I never felt I had any limitations with that amp. It handled effects between the guitar and the amp very well, including overdrives and distortions. I never was dissatisfied with it, but I sold it in the early 90's for $400 to help finance some racked amps and cabs. I kind of wish I never had sold it, just so I could have that clean/chorus sound again.
Old 9th February 2013
  #73
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That is great to know it handles FX well. The newer ones have stereo FX insert/returns. All of the current videos on the Roland website demonstrating Boss pedal boxes are done using a JC-120. They sound pretty good. I heard a demo on youtube of a guy who had connected a Lexicon PCM-70 and was using the delay. That sounded pretty decent in stereo.

The guitar sound of the Talking Heads clip is great - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g8lFmsCXhg. There are 4 Jc-120s. Not sure what amp David Byrne is using.
Old 9th February 2013
  #74
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aTelecine-Lex's Avatar
I wonder if there has been changes in the speakers over the years... ?

I have one circa 2000 - As mentioned it is a fantastic Amp for a very clinical clean tone.

Best,
Alexa
Old 9th February 2013
  #75
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Nick Morris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by aTelecine-Lex View Post
I wonder if there has been changes in the speakers over the years... ?

I have one circa 2000 - As mentioned it is a fantastic Amp for a very clinical clean tone.

Best,
Alexa
What speakers are in yours?
Old 9th February 2013
  #76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyle Caldwell View Post
You can't use overdrive pedals with a JC-120, as they work by hitting the tube input stage of an amp, which the JC-120 lacks. With a solid state amp (esp with a really clean one like a JC-120) you need a distortion pedal.
That's ridiculous!! I have used an overdrive pedal many times with a JC120. Sounds great!! One thing that is great about the JC is its a unique sound. Who knows if its right for you. You gotta try it. They are road dogs.

In my opinion it a way more usable amp the any if the new fender amps like deville, etc.
Old 9th February 2013
  #77
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Yes, there is a difference between overdriving an amp and using an "overdrive pedal". The former being a gain structure that pushes a tube amp into distorting (which you wouldn't do with a solid state amp) and the later being a type of distortion box to simulate that effect (used in front of any type of amp).
Old 12th February 2013
  #78
A buddy came over this weekend, we were going through some of my pedals, etc. Eventually I plugged into the JC-120H (a head unit, which is apparently different than the combos), first playing clean with the *fixed* chorus setting - he just stood there with his mouth open. Standing in front of the amp, you can *feel* the chorus moving around you . Really cool and lush, though I haven't tried to record that yet...

But then I turned on the distortion knob (on the head unit, there is only one channel, and you turn a knob to engage the distortion), and his eyes almost jumped out of his head - the thing was just roaring, like it could rip our heads off from across the room! Later on I put an MXR Micro-Amp in front of it (clean again, but the micro-amp was all the way up), and the same thing happened, it was roaring like an animal!

I'm attributing some of this to the Mesa Stereo Cab - I'd played this amp before, and it had never sounded like that to me. EVERYTHING I've ever read and heard said has stated as *fact* how poor the distortion on JC-amps are, but I disagree, this thing is currently a monster!

So I say check out a head unit, and find it a nice cabinet. I see one on ebay right now for $400. Probably worth it...
Old 13th February 2013
  #79
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Got my JC-120 today. I am very pleased with it and am not suffering from post-purchase depression.

Initially when I connected a TC 2290 to the FX send/return on the back of the JC-120 it added some noticeable hiss, but reducing the direct/fx levels on the TC2290 both to 50 sorted that problem. The vibrato mode (unlike the chorus) adds some noticeable hiss but turning the depth knob to the right reduces it (very strange). The chorus is nice with low speed and low depth.

Playing through a Boss Metal Zone pedal added some nice distortion. I found the key to getting a good distorted sound from the Boss is dipping the middle frequencies and increasing the bass a tad.

The distortion on the JC-120 adds a nice edge but my preference was to have it off.

The spring reverb was good on low settings.

For clean sounds I prefered the first channel (the basic one) without the bright button activated.

My Rickenbacher 4001 bass sounded very cool through the first channel. I then connected the output on the JC-120 to a Wharfdale 400 watt foldback speaker (which has a 15 inch speaker) and it added some nice depth. The two amps together sounded fantastic on bass.

What impressed me about this amp is that unlike other amps you do not need to crank it up loud to get to that sweet spot. I was quite happy with the volume on 1 to 1.5 (even with the bass).

I am looking forward to trying it out with an Eventide H8000FW.

Has anyone had experience recording a JC-120? What type of mic or mics would you recommend and positioning?
Old 13th February 2013
  #80
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now look at this, the mighty JC-200 with two 2x12 cabinets, the rarest and most powerful of all Jazz Chorus amps:
Roland JC-120 worth it?Roland JC 200 2 Original Boxen 2x12 in Winterthur Mega RARE | eBay
Old 13th February 2013
  #81
That's a great deal. Might be worth the buy just to have in your studio. I think they do great cleans and take pedals really well. Unless you're doing a high-gain thing, they're great amps and the onboard chorus and trem sounds great
Old 16th February 2013
  #82
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I have spent the last few days trying to work out why the JC-120 sounds extremely noisy when the Eventide H8000FW is connected. I tried connecting the Eventide to the TC2290 FX loop 5 (but it did not cure the noise). I even tried recording the JC-120 clean into Pro Tools and having the Eventide on an FX bus, but that did not sound nearly as good as having it connected to the stereo FX loop on the back of the JC-120.

I even called my technician to see if it was possible for him to modify the JC-120 to reduce the noise. He did not seem to think he would be able to do much. I then contacted a user on the Eventide users forum to find out if anything could be done. He was very helpful and told me that the problem is with the leads I am using. The 1/4 inch jacks on the leads which connect to the JC-120 must be unbalanced while the XLR ins/outs on the leads which connect to the Eventide must be balanced. A line lead needs to be used. On the Eventide users forum there are directions as to wiring leads for use with a combo amp.

The TC2290 does not have this problem because it also has 1/4 inch jacks. It sounds great with the JC-120. Using the TC2290 in combination with the H8000FW sounded jaw dropping (bar the excessive noise). I am getting some new leads made up as per the directions on the Eventide users forum. I can't wait to hear the Eventide without the excessive noise. The JC-120 just sounded so beautiful with it even at low levels. It also records well at low levels. It sounded pretty good recorded clean with 2 Neumann KM184s set about 6 inches from the amp (pointing towards the top corner of the left and right speakers) going through a clean preamp (Buzz Audio MA.2.2).
Old 19th February 2013
  #83
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Joe Cole's Avatar
 

My personal experience....

I had one and ran a 2 amp set up with a Marshall JCM800, using and AB switch. I really thought it would solve my needs, I mean, it is a legend.

I tried and tried to deny it, tweaking for months.... but the truth is I really hated that amp. Sterile, lifeless...in the clean channel, and if you are dare try the dirty channel, be prepared for the worst spitting buzzy noisefest you have ever heard.

I know many great artists have used them, and gotten passable sounds out of them, but for me.....it was simply the wrong amp.

Being a hoarder of gear....it is one of the only pieces I sold and NEVER regretted selling.
Old 20th February 2013
  #84
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noah330's Avatar
The JC-120 is probably one of the better solid state amplifiers ever made. It certainly is one of the more popular.

The combos sound good (if you like the JC sound) and using pedals with them shouldn't be a problem. It's kind of like using pedals with a Fender Twin, personally I would rather have a red knob Twin for the money but YMMV.

I would say check it out. They're reliable and well made and if you're into the 80s type of sounds I can't imagine one would not deliver. The stereo chorus in them is great (Boss CE-1). The distortion is horrible, but that's what stomp boxes are for.
Old 25th February 2013
  #85
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aTelecine-Lex's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Cole View Post
My personal experience....

I had one and ran a 2 amp set up with a Marshall JCM800, using and AB switch. I really thought it would solve my needs, I mean, it is a legend.

I tried and tried to deny it, tweaking for months.... but the truth is I really hated that amp. Sterile, lifeless...in the clean channel, and if you are dare try the dirty channel, be prepared for the worst spitting buzzy noisefest you have ever heard.

I know many great artists have used them, and gotten passable sounds out of them, but for me.....it was simply the wrong amp.

Being a hoarder of gear....it is one of the only pieces I sold and NEVER regretted selling.
Of course, your opinion is correct as it relates to your preferences and personal taste.

I would however say that I cannot imagine that the JC-120 would be flattering while used alongside a JCM-800.

It really seems to shine brightest in a dual-amp setup when paired with amps that have more bottom-end and a somewhat less focused, or less "bright" high-frequency output.

In my experience, when running with other amps it also helps to allow for the use of considerably more distortion.

The Roland offer's a very focused point of clarity which really cuts through the wall of heavy distortion which helps to preserve the detail of the notes being played.

The JC-120 certainly has a very signature "sound" - And it seem's any piece that bears such a strong signature, or unique character, tend's to be either loved or hated.

Best Regards,
Alexa
Old 25th February 2013
  #86
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Nick Morris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by aTelecine-Lex View Post
any piece that bears such a strong signature, or unique character, tend's to be either loved or hated.
Exactly. Perfect for some things and the worst for others.
Old 25th February 2013
  #87
That could be said about most amps. The best amps are usually one trick ponies. One amazing sound that I great for most things, but not everything.
Old 26th February 2013
  #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litepipe View Post
That could be said about most amps. The best amps are usually one trick ponies. One amazing sound that I great for most things, but not everything.
+1
Old 26th February 2013
  #89
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microwave's Avatar
The JC is a nice amp - if you are after that kind of sound ie clean, glassy and very eighties - think The Cure and you got the idea. The chorus is great. The distortion should be permanently set to off. Being solid state of course its not one of those amps that give back a springy reaction to your playing, but then again it was never meant for overdriven soloing. If you use a lot of pedals and/ or are looking for a quality amp that will just make what goes in it louder with style its a good choice. Keep in mind that its very loud and very heavy.
Old 27th February 2013
  #90
Yeah it's really heavy!! I rarely take mine on gigs for this purpose. The model with the 2 x 10 speakers is nice and lighter.
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